Sacramento Bee / Scott Flodin
Fund raising: fact and fancyMore than 160 million environmental fund-raising pitches swirled through the U.S. mail last year. Some used the power of cute animals to attract donors. The problem is that in many cases those campaigns were less than honest.
Pitch: California sea otter"We're facing a monumental challenge. The Marine Mammal Commission 'blueprint' on how to save California's sea otters says there's no hope for a solution unless a crucial question can be answered: what role is toxic contamination playing in the terrifying plunge in the otter population."
-- The Otter Project, fund-raising solicitation
Fact:The Marine Mammal Commission document is not a blueprint but a "discussion draft." It suggests several possible actions to help protect otters, including monitoring gill nets for otter mortality, developing otter-proof lobster pots and fish traps and field studies.
Source: Marine Mammal Commission
Forgotten:Focusing on otters overlooks other compelling -- but less glamorous -- marine ecological plights. The bocaccio, a once-abundant rockfish, is considered "critically endangered" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. White abalone numbers have declined so steeply the species has been proposed for listing on the federal endangered species list.
Source: International Union for the Conservation of Nature; U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service.